Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz: Big Data, Big Revelations

Everybody Lies.jpg

If you’re interested in the future of the Internet, consumer behaviour in an increasingly digital world, debunking truths about human nature or just have a curious mind, then this book is for you.

That’s the short version of the review done and dusted but if you’re sticking around a little longer then we’ll delve deeper.

Big Data, Big Revelations

Over the course of eight chapters Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, a Harvard and Stanford educated behavioural economics and data scientist, explores what Google searches, Facebook likes and article clicks tell us about the modern 21st century world we live in today.

It’s equally fascinating from both a personal and a business point of view.

For instance, did you know that thousands of us type statements such as “I am sad” or “I am happy” into Google for no particular reason (that we currently know of)?

If I was operating within a mental health charity or organisation I’d be pretty interested in that.

Similarly, in a comparison study of The Atlantic (high brow) and The National Enquirer (low brow), Stephens-Davidowitz was able to identify that as a general public we want to “appear smart and cultured” yet in reality all we want is low brow, easy to consume, entertainment and gossip.

How did he do this?

Seth compared the number of Facebook “likes”, article clicks and monthly readership between the two publications and his results quickly revealed that even though we “liked” Atlantic articles 24 more times than the National Enquirer, the latter still had a bigger audience and readership base.

What does this mean from a business perspective?

Well, maybe it means that social media content needs to be more entertaining, casual and accessible, even if we’re promoting premium brands. Just a thought, but one we might not have without the data analysis mentioned above.

The two examples above might not be the most ground breaking, and in some cases you may have already assumed people behaved that way, but data takes assumption out of the equation and for marketing, that can be a game changer.

Macro Behaviour, Micro Action

On a small scale those specific instances of “I am sad” or The Atlantic v National Enquirer might not seem like much but on a macro level, alongside other revelations in the book, they can tell us about how people behave online and also offline.

With that sort of information, and better recognition of what to do with it, we can shift our marketing messages and business actions to better fit the current climate, whatever our end goal may be.

I don’t normally do book reviews on this blog (this is the first and maybe last one…) but Everybody Lies deserves a mention and should be a must-read for any digital marketer in 2017 and beyond.


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